Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sweet Potato Biscuits

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This is not the food of my people. I was raised on sour dough, seeded rye and grain so whole it could crack your teeth. Biscuits, save for shortbread, were not in my purview and I was well into my thirties before I figuratively crossed the Mason-Dixon line and had a true cream biscuit. I loved it, vowed to master its making, but, instead, went home and again made cinnamon buns and kaiser rolls. The foods of a lifetime are the ones learned in the kitchen's of our childhood. Biscuit had no place in my early memories, so they slid from my culinary radar. Then fate intervened and sent a Southern son-in-law my way. Biscuits and their mastery became important as we tried to weave the traditions of his childhood into those of our table. While striving for mastery, I came across a feature that caught my eye and changed the direction in which I was heading. Adam Ried, in an article written for The Boston Globe, claimed, "The wedding of biscuit to sweet potato is an occasion of culinary bliss." Pushing hyperbole aside, I was intrigued by his claim and decided to try his recipe. It makes moist and tender biscuits with a riveting color that comes from roasted and caramelized sweet potatoes. I really like these, but they are not a mix and bake affair. Their execution requires planning and they are a poor choice for a busy kitchen with limited hands to help. If you make these at a time you are not under stress, I think you'll be delighted with the results. Here's the recipe.

Sweet Potato Biscuits...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Adam Ried


1 medium-large sweet potato, about 14 ounces

1/4 cup cold buttermilk

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for patting out dough and cutting biscuits

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

Pinch cayenne

Salt and black pepper

8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into roughly 1/2-inch cubes


1) Set oven rack in middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet (roughly 18 by 13 inches) with parchment paper or a silicone liner, and set aside.

2) Prick sweet potato in several spots with a fork. Place it on a small baking sheet, and bake until tender, about 1-1/4 hours. Cut potato open, peel back skin (to release steam), cool it to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Peel off skin, and roughly mash flesh (you should have about 1-1/2 cups). Add buttermilk, mix very well, and set aside. Again preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

3) In a food processor, process 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, brown sugar, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper until well blended. Scatter butter pieces evenly over flour mixture in food processor and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 6 2-second pulses. Add sweet potato mixture in dollops in several spots over flour and butter mixture, and pulse until flour and sweet potato mixtures combine and just begin to come together into a light-orange dough mass, 10 to 15 2-second pulses.

4) Generously flour a clean work surface, turn out dough, and sprinkle top with flour. Knead dough gently, folding it in half and rotating it 3 or 4 times, just until it is uniform and cohesive (try to keep the kneading to a minimum). Sprinkle a little bit more flour on the work surface and dough to prevent sticking, if necessary, and gently pat the dough into a circle that is roughly 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch high (the height is more important than the shape or diameter, which may vary). Dip a sharp 2-1/2-inch biscuit cutter into flour and using brisk, decisive, straight-down punches (avoid rotating or twisting cutter in dough), cut out rounds of dough as close to one another as possible (to maximize the number of rounds), dipping cutter into flour before each new cut. Transfer dough rounds to prepared baking sheet, positioning them about 1 inch apart. Push dough scraps together and knead them gently once or twice until cohesive. Again pat out the dough until it is 1 inch high, dip cutter into flour, and in same manner as before, cut out as many dough rounds as possible, and transfer them to the baking sheet with first batch.

5) Bake until biscuits are puffed, light golden on top, and deep brown on bottom, 15 to 17 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking time for even cooking. Transfer biscuits to a wire rack, cool for about 15 minutes, and serve warm. Yield: 10 to 12 biscuits.

Cook's note: Variations of sweet potato biscuits can be found here.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Drop Biscuits with Cheddar Cheese and Garlic - One Perfect Bite

Blueberry Biscuits - The Runaway Spoon

Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits - Salad in a Jar

Berry Biscuit Cups - Cooking Stuff

Biscuits in Sausage Gravy - Chaos in the Kitchen

Jalapeno Cheddar Biscuits - Foodie Memoirs

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits - Katy's Kitchen

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